I totally missed this announcement from Redwolf U.K., about a new Umarex licensed HK416D PTW.

Not just a receiver set – a complete RIF:

At this point, I don’t know anything else about it.

I’m particularly interested to know who the OEM is, because from that it may be possible to gauge the likely quality of the product. If the quality is up there, it’ll be great to have an alternative supplier of PTW internals.

Such a large, complex undertaking also begs the question:

Is 2019 the year of the PTW renaissance?

Things have been gathering pace…

To date, I would estimate the peak years for PTW ownership were somewhere between 2010 and 2016. During that time, the platform even acquired a gaggle of direct clones (e.g. CTW).

At one point everyone seemed to own a PTW. The platform appeared way too big – bigger than it had any right to be, given the eye watering cost. The PTW was never meant to be as ubiquitous as Levi’s jeans – but more of a niche, luxury, artisan denim.

Between 2016 and 2018 market headwinds developed and Systema’s flagship PTW Recoil flopped. The company implemented a poor design – reliant on battery mags – which delivered a feature no one asked for.

The bubble burst.

Meanwhile, multiple platforms – priced more competitively and offering better value for money – gained pace. They occupied the ubiquitous, Levi’s jeans spot they were designed from the ground up to fill.

As a consequence, things became a lot leaner for the PTW. Brands like Prime got out of the game and FCC disappeared from view. Ownership of PTWs returned to pre-2010 levels and the platform again became a niche and acquired taste.

In 2018 things began to change – certainly in terms of the kind of questions I was asked via the blog. This anecdotal evidence – plus the irrefutable evidence of new PTW manufacturers bringing innovative products to market – tells us that there is renewed interest in the PTW.

Indeed, a lunch meeting with Bismarck from HAO in December 2018 made me aware of a number of things that I didn’t know about the global PTW market. And why should I be aware? Like most of my peers, I’m just an airsofter – not an entrepreneur who sells direct to the luxury market; and who has to be on top of these things in order to take informed financial risks.

So, with all that said, 2019 is looking like an excellent year for the PTW. I’m amazed at how its fortunes have been turned around – mainly down to a group of dedicated, passionate third party manufacturers – plus a hard core user base.

And the latter is important too. A friend offered recently that hardcore PTW users had abandoned the platform. He said it with a smirk, but my equally jovial reply was that if they’d left the platform, they weren’t hardcore.

It’s also telling that all this traction has been achieved with absolutely no effort from Systema themselves. Many hardcore PTW owners – and I count myself amongst their ranks – agree that the company’s stewardship of their invention has been one of self-harm and incompetence.

As to the dedicated, passionate third party manufacturers I mentioned earlier: FCC is back on the scene after a noticeable absence and – with both HAO and FCC promising to fight it out with SCAR variants – there’s something brand new for the platform.

FCC also recently showed its AR9 receiver set and mags.

Not one for most people, but bang on for FCC’s market segment.

PTW market leader HAO is due to complete its L119A2 offering very soon, with a tweaked IUR and new 7075 stamped lower – including all the definitive small parts; and a correct, 1:1 suppressor.

HAO’s IUR is, of course, still the only one on the market (“IUR” stands for Integrated Upper Receiver, which is Colt Canada’s name for a monolithic upper – where traditional upper and rail are conjoined as one continuous unit).

HAO has also made the bold – some would say political – move of absolutely underlining that they will not progress plans for a TM NGRS IUR. That didn’t go down well when it was announced exclusively on the blog, given that a good chunk of existing L119A2 owners use the TM.

And they do have a point, because the sheer beauty and CNC complexity of HAO’s L119A2 IUR shouldn’t be reserved for a single platform. For that reason I do hope that HAO progresses its stated intention of producing an L119A2 receiver set – including the IUR – for the TM MWS gas blowback.

Silencing some critics, HAO has started a more affordable economy line with the release of its Geissele MK16 replica – for a mere $100.

Aside from HAO, Zparts may also be one to watch in 2019.

The challenge for the company is to step from under HAO’s shadow, with some original PTW products; a receiver set that’s never been seem before, which is technically challenging, perhaps? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.

Having said that, Zparts does already produce a unique line in receiver sets – which are forged and stamped:

C&C TAC is also a relatively new entry to the PTW market. Again, they look really promising – based on the ‘Block 3’ suite they’ve brought to market.

I’m told that Zshot (not to be confused with Zparts) is doing good things for PTW in the US, although I’ve yet to see any of their products first hand.

However, I spotted a very, very similar 416 to the one at the start of this piece in their social media.

Curious. Very curious.